The Washington Post

The president’s press conference: More of the same.

President Obama’s press conference this afternoon was particularly disappointing. The man is stuck in campaign mode. He can’t seem to move away from slogans and talking points, some of which are so shallow and cliched that they cross the line and are actually deceptive. 

With all the president’s talk about federal budget “cuts” and “savings,” you would think there is actually some cutting and saving going on. The Democrats routinely announce that they want to spend $10, and then when they only spend $6, they tell you they “saved” $4. And the president may be among Washington’s worst offenders at perpetuating this line of thinking. It would be comical if it weren’t so dangerous and harmful to the economy and our country. 

With all the talk about cutting and saving, it’s worth remembering that Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate haven’t passed a budget in three years, including one year when both the House and the Senate were in Democratic hands.  And I didn’t hear the president call on anyone in his party today to pass a budget. 

The president did, however, preemptively blame Republicans for brinkmanship regarding the debt ceiling. Typical. That said, using the debt ceiling as a way to achieve real budget reductions is the wrong fight at the wrong time for Republicans. We can pick that battle any time we want to. We already have better opportunities for a debate over real budget reform: March 1 is when the Office of Management and Budget must order legally mandated cuts in government spending, and the continuing resolution for our current fiscal year’s spending expires March 27. Republicans should extend the debt ceiling beyond March 27 and use the very dangerous fight over the debt ceiling only if we have to then.

The president shamelessly berated Republicans for not offering any savings, choosing to forget the attacks he launched on House Republicans who twice voted for and passed House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget

Finally, the president’s closing statement included the same old tired homilies, slogans  and retreads from the campaign, suggesting that Republicans are against anything good.

Anyway, by my reckoning, the president didn’t do anything in this press conference to close the partisan divide in Washington, and everything about his smug demeanor today suggests he won’t try to do so any time soon.  I hope Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Biden haven’t lost their patience to negotiate and that House Speaker John Boehner has the stomach to continue to be the adult in the room whenever he and the president meet.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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